After months of tortuous papers and projects, hours of mind-numbing lectures, disputes over grades, not-so-patiently waiting for your professor to email you back or handing out grades, filling out course evaluations seem to be a student’s revengeful saving grace.  Some students capitalize on this opportunity to express their true feelings.  Others complain about their professor all semester and as they feel relief that the course is coming to a close, they quickly circle all of the highest scores for their professor and run out of class, disregarding their opportunity to voice any concerns.

Through casual conversation with various students who attend colleges and universities throughout the country, it seems as though students simply do not believe that taking the time to fill out course evaluations holds any weight in terms of improving teaching departments.

Taking course evaluations seriously does impact professor’s teaching styles.  Evaluations keep standards high.  If a professor needs improvement but only receives positive feedback, they will have no reason to believe they need to make changes, aside from being simply passionate teachers.  Honest course evaluations can break the chain of overlooked poor quality teaching.  On a greater scale, when a professor receives negative feedback from a majority of students, a career may be in jeopardy.  Taking evaluations seriously can significantly impact how and if professors will be teaching next semester.

One thing about course evaluations to remember is that you are evaluating the professor, not the course.  Especially when taking general education courses, you may be facing a course that is not your expertise, a course you did not enjoy by any means.  Be sure to judge your professor fairly in this respect.  Was your teacher un-supportive, or did you really just not like the material and thus paid less attention?  Did you not like the teacher’s pace working through course materials, or was it that you weren’t attentive in that Friday 8am Econ class?

While you are in the midst of presentations, finals, papers, course evaluations are probably the last thing you will be giving any brain power to, but making sure that you fill them all out truthfully and honestly can keep the standards of the faculty high and give you that satisfying feeling that your voice has been heard.


I’m reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down